Saturday, July 3, 2010

Letters, III

I'm writing today with a request that may seem a bit odd to you, perhaps even to the point of perversity, but seeing that you are yourself a writer and that I, too, am one, it would seem a bit perverse, wouldn't it, if there were no intended perversity in our correspondence?  There, I have introduced perversity into the writer's equivalent of The Social Contract, which more or less pays out the Rule of Three, doesn't it?  The Rule of Three is an old writer's trick in which things are repeated in threes, the payoff coming on the third repetition or event.  I have actually lead with the third of the triad, perversity, the first two being well known to us both, which are compulsiveness and obsession.  There, we have that out of the way:  we are all of us in addition to our perversity as writers compulsive and obsessive.

I suppose you could say that we obsess over our perversity although I know some writers who obsess over their compulsiveness, although they all tend to write escapist fiction.

You are doubtless wondering the nature of my request, which is that when you are called upon to go from one place to another, whether it is the composition of a story, the completion of a research project,or merely the carrying out of an errand, my request of you is that you go the long way.

There is something elegant about a writer taking the long way to get from point A in a task to point B, even if it means a number of digressions might arise, only to be later deleted.  Take the hard way, the long way, what seems to you to be the most difficult way, the way in which you have no easy answers, the way that forces you to reach, wobble, take some missteps, stretching every bit of your writing self to find an honest answer rather than an easy one, a fresh answer rather than one you already knew, an answer you did not even know you had.  Such answers are there, but they have to be reached for, fretted about.

If you have anything to do with schools, you will undoubtedly encounter some canned statement about the meaning of plagiarism, and a note about how intolerable such practices are.  Nothing is said about plagiarizing from yourself, but there should be, simply because doing so presents you with another incident where you do not have to grow or reach.  It would be nice to think of us all as reaching and growing, bumping into each other and ourselves as we strive for the full reach, the growth of awareness and understanding.  That is a Social Contract I hope you will join me in.

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